Rupaul’s Drag Race

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Has RuPaul's Drag Race Fucked Up Drag?

To quote drag queen, Jasmine Master’s infamous, "I have something to say, RuPaul’s Drag Race has fucked up drag,’ meme, this thought-provoking opinion is something that I find myself returning to every time a new drag queen expresses the validation they feel from being chosen to be on the show. Furthermore, when this validation seems only rewarded when winning, it becomes a rather toxic outlook towards drag in drag race. While I don’t look down upon queens who have this belief, I do believe to an extent that it is exhausting to watch a queen dilute their talent to only being validated through RuPaul’s ‘stamp of approval.’ Drag is a form of self-expression and the idea that for some drag queens, their admission to drag race and running time on drag race is validation saddens me, because I think drag is such a beautiful art form and the variety of nuances that it’s performed in is what makes it most interesting to me. I sometimes feel like RuPaul’s Drag Race, as a competition, tends to affect that with its challenges that are fine tuned to specific areas. Sure some queens are more well-versed in different areas, and the show is meant to show case the variety of talents that walk through that work room, but I notice the pressures of a competition like drag race affecting queens nevertheless. I’d like to hear other’s thought on this.

  • Very important topic, especially since drag also has a history of being a political art form. Whoever chooses this topic should also keep in mind how Willam said one of the only reasons why she came onto drag race was because she couldn't get work anymore for being a queen who wasn't a "Ru Girl". Another important point is that while the race initially had very loose boundaries, because of its mass popularity it has its own controlling hand. this current season in particular (season 10). Has expressed that fits were egged on by producers, Snatch game characters or outfit choices were discarded based on what producers felt would be popular, etc. – Pamela Maria Schmidt 3 years ago
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  • I think this could be useful to also compare earlier seasons to the more recent seasons - particularly the 'scandal' around the most recent All Stars season coming across as scripted and pre-arranged. – CatEllen 3 years ago
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  • My sense is that drag has never been free of competition. Drag shows that I attended pretty regularly some three decades ago in a local bar had clear competitive elements. There were open rivalries, audience favorites, structured competitions, etc. I think it's legitimate to be critical and ask hard questions of anything in mass media, definitely, but I doubt there ever was a more pure form of drag that was free of competition and validation. – JamesBKelley 3 years ago
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Drag: Sexist Stereotypes or a Respectful Homage to Womanhood?

The reality television show, Rupaul’s Drag Race, has unquestionably brought the art of drag into mainstream culture. The show has particularly been praised for its inclusion of gay and transgender voices, yet feminists seem to disagree about what the popularisation of drag means for women. Do Rupaul and the drag queens on his show represent femininity and womanhood in a positive light, or encourage feminine stereotypes and rigid beauty standards? By dressing up "as women", are the queens showing an appreciation of femininity and reclaiming stereotypes of gay men? Or are they simply reinforcing harmful ideas about how women should look and behave? Would love to read people’s views on this topic!

  • A discussion of Trans rights (Rupaul has come under fire from the Trans community many a time) as well as the ambiguity and contestation of gender/"womanhood" as such would be prudent to explore here, too. – ees 3 years ago
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  • I have binge watch Rupaul's show all week and although it is highly entertaining I have also been trouble by some of the dated definitions of gender on the show. I like the fact that clearly biological males are referred to repeatedly as women/girls because it does disturb our visual concepts of what is defined as 'womanhood'. But I am often troubled with the fact that 'womanhood' is then further described as pink, 'glittery', feminine, etc. etc... also, the beauty standards are definitely set at glamour and that further isolates not just the expectation of women but also men. – imaenad 3 years ago
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  • These queens are encouraging feminism an womanhood. Their goal is to look and act like confident women. RuPaul refers to the anatomically correct males and women, girls and queens. By doing this he is throwing out the typical genre roles and treating these people the way they fee and want to be treated. Feminism is making women equal to men and if these men feel like women then they should be treated equally. They encourage men who feel like queens to stand up and own themselves, they encourage women be true to their femininity while breaking the classic view of women having to be proper, pink and perfect. RuPaul's show portrays real life and real people. Nothing harmful towards women come from that show. – princessmia 3 years ago
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  • I am a fan of the show too and agree that it is positive in many ways. It definitely encourages tolerance which is fantastic. I also agree that lots of the queens subvert feminine stereotypes by being crude and “unladylike” and I think that this should be included in the discussion. But if I were to give an example of something harmful towards women which has come from the show, I would direct you to the championing of Violet Chachki’s thinness in season 7. She even did a runway where she happily joked about being dangerously thin by wearing a fake life support machine and an extremely tight corset. I definitely think this is harmful to women’s body image, and insensitive to eating disorder survivors (who are mostly women). – Indigo 3 years ago
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  • It would be interesting to explore the problematic nature of Rupaul's comments at various times throughout the running of Rupaul's Drag Race. It seems that every once in a while, Rupaul says something terrible about trans people, or her comments seem to imply a disrespect for trans individuals. So incorporation of that into something like this topic would be interesting! – nathanl 3 years ago
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